The Parliamentary Bill for HS2 Phase 2a authorising the high speed rail link between Lichfield and Crewe was published yesterday.
Michael Fabricant and Cheryl Gillan (the Conservative MP for Amersham) joined Ed Miliband MP mid-afternoon in demanding an oral statement from the Transport Secretary. This duly took place at 10pm last night (17th July). This what Michael said:-
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):
Lichfield has been blighted twice by HS2, first by phase 1 and now by phase 2a. Farms are facing devastation in my constituency, with quarries being planned for them under phase 2a regulations. Will the Secretary of State confirm that they can appeal against this through a petition?
His predecessor said that the whole rationale for HS2 was congestion, but is it not the case that most of the congestion on the West Coast Main Line is mainly south of Birmingham? I do not believe that phase 2a and phase 2b are necessary. It would save this nation money and I can tell the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard), who is on the Front Bench, that this legislation certainly will not have my support when it comes to a vote.
Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary):
My hon. Friend talks about congestion; he should see the communications that I receive from people in Manchester and Leeds saying, “Our trains and railway lines are full; we need more capacity.” And, for example, our new colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton), is keen to see additional services from Stoke to Birmingham. If we are to have new capacity to deliver new services, we need a bigger network; that is what this is all about. I am absolutely clear that people will have the right to petition and to express their views to the Committee; that is the right and proper process to follow.
Michael now says: “I am aware that people’s lives are being blighted by a railway that does not connect with Birmingham New Street, the continent, or even London Heathrow Airport. The design is a nonsense and people’s business and homes now face being destroyed.
“However, as we found in Phase 1, effective Petitioning can reverse some of these decisions. This will happen in the Committee Stage of the Bill which is likely to commence in 2018. In the meantime, I will work with constituents to see how this can best be achieved. But I don’t envy all the worry and concern that my constituents affected by HS2 will have in the meantime.”